So, the other day I’m walking along a beach in old Persia (I swear!) when I found this old oil lamp half-buried in the sand. After I dug it up, I tried to wipe the thing off — it had seaweed everywhere — and much to my surprise, out popped a Genie (Djinn for those of you purists).
Anyway, so after a couple of wasted wishes (in my defense, that sandwich was really tasty, and I HAD run out of sunscreen), I decided to make my last wish count.
“No wishing for more wishes, my Master,” the Djinn said. “Have you not seen a Disney movie?”
“So, what do you wish?”
“Well, how about the Astros win the World Series?”
“I’m a Djinn, not a miracle worker. Pick something reasonable. Something possible. Something that I must only nudge in the right direction to make it happen.”
“So, I can’t wish the Yankees …” Spit! “… a 162-loss season?”
The Djinn gave me a disapproving look.
“Fine,” I said, “I’ll make some reasonable wishes, and you can tell me which are allowed and which are just wishful thinking.”
So, here are my wish possibilities. Let me know which fit the Djinn’s criteria and which are wasted wishes that just cannot happen.
1. A.J. Hinch seems to have the hot hand when it comes to pitching changes and pinch hitting, going to the pen at the right time nearly each time, and grabbing that correct bat off the bench. In part, Hinch’s genius comes from better options that were available to his predecessor, but part of his success comes from reading his players and getting the most out of them.
2. True to his history, Jon Singleton adjusts a bit on his second year at a level, consistently hitting right around .240 all season but also drawing plenty of walks. His higher contact rate (how could it not get higher than in 2014) also meant a higher SLG, fewer ABs between homers and a K rate in the 20s. Oh, and that above-average defense finally flashed the leather in 2015.
3. While Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Scott Feldman put up numbers in the same ballpark (pun intended) as in 2014, it is Brett Oberholtzer whose big step forward is the improvement the starting rotation needs. Obie makes 30 starts in 2015, pitches more than 175 innings and posts an ERA in the mid-3.00s. While the fifth starter spot becomes a revolving door due to nagging injuries and some ineffectiveness, even that spot is seen as a strength compared to many other teams.
4. Jake Marisnick starts squaring up on the ball, turning into a solid line-drive hitter. The fourth outfielder makes Colby Rasmus expendable, and the hillbilly slugger gets traded to a surprising Braves team at the deadline. Of course, the Braves collapse in August, but that’s not Rasmus’ fault. Meanwhile, Jake From State Farm’s batting average tops the .285 mark. And a surprising amount of power — more doubles and triples than homers, but even those tick up a bit — means opposing pitchers need to take Jake seriously, giving him a .330 OBP to go with his .400 SLG.
5. Given the closer spot right out of spring training, Luke Gregerson becomes lights out. Meanwhile Neshek and Qualls take turns in the eighth inning, and Sipp and Fields take turn disrupting lineups by taking over in the seventh. When not grabbing a spot start, Jake Buchanan is always good for two innings of relief on any given night.
6. Back from his injured finger of 2014, Jed Lowrie puts up a repeat of his best numbers ever, putting up an OPS of nearly .800 while bashing nearly 20 HRs and playing about 150 games. Best of all, he and Jose Altuve combine for more double plays than any pair of infielders in the game.
7. It’s 2013 all over again for Jason Castro. While he plays only 118 games behind the plate, Castro’s .820 OPS and 22 HRs are the best of all AL backstops. And working with Hank Conger, Castro improves his defense and pitch framing, giving him one of the best catcher seasons in recent memory.
8. George Springer‘s health has never been better. The Astros CF-RF raises his BA to .263. But the ripple effect of that can be seen throughout his stats. In a full season, he strikes out “only” 175 times, tops 40 HRs, and sees his OBP climb to .375. Springer’s OPS falls just short of .900, but when combined with his stellar defense gives Springer a WAR of nearly 7.0.
So, are any of these wishes a wish too far?
Which of my wishes would you want the Djinn to grant?
If you had just one wish — and you don’t like mine — what reasonable wish would you make?